Time Management Tips: Eliminating Distractions and Avoiding Time Sucking Vampires

How do you handle distractions in your workday? In today’s video, I am sharing my proven method for keeping the “Time Sucking Vampires” (those distractions that slowly suck your time away) at bay so you can stay focused and get your work done. 



I’m sure you’ve had this situation happen to you: you’re trying to get work done and you just have distraction after distraction from your employees. Please don’t take this the wrong way but I like to call these “Times Sucking Vampires.” It’s not that their intentions are cruel, they’re not out to harm you in any way or it’s not that the information they need to share with you isn’t important. It’s just that they suck time away from you from your day. It’s a distraction.

What I am sharing with you today is a method that I use to keep some of these Time Sucking Vampires at bay. Because what’s really happening here is that your employees are coming to talk to you when it’s convenient for them, and it’s usually when it’s not convenient for you. They figured that if they talk to you later at night, that’s when you want to go home. When they want to talk during the morning, that’s when you may be sleeping. So it’s convenient for them to come to talk to you when you’re trying to get your most focused work done.

Keep the Vampires at Bay

The number one method that I have for eliminating a lot of these distractions is going to sound a little odd or a little counter culture to you. I implement this process with a lot of my clients and it works really well for them, but you have to follow the system. It’s a system of closed doors and office hours. We need to eliminate this idea of “My door is always open to you. Come in whenever you need to. I’m always available to you.” 

I want you to be available to your staff but I want you to be available when it’s convenient for you and not necessarily when it’s convenient for them because you have important things to do. If you don’t keep growing the business, working on the marketing, financials, new menu ideas, and creating systems, processes, and procedures then there may not even be a restaurant where your employees get their paychecks from. The work you’re doing is important just like the work they’re doing, but sometimes in an effort to be the ‘cool boss’ we put their priorities ahead of ours. 

When you’re on an airplane, what do they tell you to do in the event of an emergency? Do you put your oxygen mask on first or your kid’s oxygen mask first? It’s always your oxygen mask first. It’s not that your kids aren’t important. It’s just your instinct to put the oxygen mask on your kid first just like I would instinctively do if I’m flying with my 5-year-old son. They’ve tested it and have proven that if you pass out while trying to get a mask on your kids, you’ll be in no position to help them. You could get your mask on first, very quickly without any fight, and once you’re breathing good oxygen go help your child.

I need you to put your oxygen mask on first. Here’s how you do this: Keep your door closed and put a sign on your door that says ‘Do not disturb’ or ‘Please come back later’ or whatever word(s) you need to use. Your employees are still going to bother you because they’re used to that, but when they come in you need to ask them, “Is this an emergency?”. The first couple of times they might say ‘Yes’ or they might say ‘No’. We want to distinguish what qualifies as an emergency – does this have to be dealt with right now or can it be dealt with later? If it’s not an emergency then inform them of your office hours, like Tuesdays from 11-12 and Thursdays from 4-5 my office is open. You can come in and talk to me about anything and for as much time as you want between those hours. You don’t need an appointment but if you want to make one that’s fine. 

If it’s a Monday and they’re knocking on your door, first ask if this an emergency. If they answer, “No, kind of…” then tell them to come back tomorrow during your office hours. Chances are they’re likely going to solve the problem themselves because they don’t want to come back. If it’s really important, they will come back and that’s great! You can sit down when you have the time scheduled as we talked about in the calendar video to handle their problem. Don’t forget to remind your team of your office hours, too.

Within a week or two of doing this, your staff will stop knocking on your door as much. The ones that have real issues will write them down, bring them up in meetings or during office hours, go to their managers, or figure out a way to solve them without your involvement. 

Summing it up

You can’t have an open-door policy where you can be available at any time for anything. You have priorities and things that you have to do in your business to keep it going, to keep your staff employed, and to keep their incomes growing. Please keep the Time Sucking Vampires at bay by putting on your oxygen mask on first. Always ask if this is an emergency, set up those office hours, and put a “Do not Disturb” sign on your door. I hope you’ve enjoyed this 5 part video series that we did this month on getting more done, improving your productivity, becoming more efficient in general, and getting more done in less time.

If you missed any of the past week’s videos in this series, check them out: